The Formula One German Grand Prix is set to take place on July 20, 2014. For the first time in decades, a Mercedes is a favorite to win the event. In fact, A 1-2 finish is almost expected, given the Mercedes dominance this season. The last Mercedes victory at the German Grand Prix took place exactly 60 years ago, in 1954, when the race was held at the famous Nurburgring. At the time, Formula One had no other race quite like it. It was 14.1 miles long as a circuit, and the race was only 22 laps as a result. It is hard to imagine today’s drivers, or indeed any driver at any time, coming to grips with a circuit that long at Formula One speeds. Indeed, Maserati driver, Onofre Marimon, was killed in the practice session in 1954. It is unlikely today that the race would even have taken place, but this was a different time.
Mercedes brought their W196 to the race with new open-wheel sheet metal, and Juan Manuel Fangio put the car on pole. Hawthorn in a Ferrari qualified second, followed by Sir Stirling Moss in a Maserati. During the race, Fangio stayed up front, but he was heavily pursued by the Ferrari of Gonzalez, and was passed for a while by Karl Kling in the other W196. Hawthorn retired early with a mechanical failure, but ironically returned later in the race to take over the other Ferrari from Gonzalez and finish second. Karl Kling in the second Mercedes, lost positions while in the pits, and finished fourth behind second Ferrari driver Trintignant. The race lasted just under three hours and 46 minutes, and included rain during part of it. It was a torturous event in which only 10 cars finished, less than half the field.
However, it was a successful race for Mercedes and their new W196, in this instance with its open wheel body style. Their championship leader, Fangio, extended his advantage over Gonzalez, and the efforts of Karl Kling resulted in the fastest lap of the race (which was also worth a championship point). Two of the three cars finished in the points, which only went down to fifth position in those days. Mercedes withdrew from racing the following year following a horrific accident at Le Mans, and have only returned to formula one in recent years. We will see if they can add to the legacy of wins and championships in Germany next week…..